• Kyodo

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Japan’s Miya Tachibana and Miho Takeda were left with an uphill task in their bid for a first Olympic gold medal Monday after placing second in the duet technical routine in the synchronized swimming competition at the Athens Games.

Performing “Awa odori,” a routine based on a regional summer dance in western Japan, Tachibana and Takeda accumulated a total of 49.000 points and finished behind Russian favorites Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova at the Olympic Aquatic Centre.

Reigning world champions Davydova and Ermakova delivered a near flawless routine for 49.417 points while American duet Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova were third with 48.334.

Tachibana and Takeda impressed with their rocket splits and bent knee combined spin and earned 9.8 across the board for overall impression and marks ranging from a 9.6 awarded by Canadian judge Sandra Roberts to 9.9 for execution.

Tachibana said she was pleased with the performance and believes that she and Takeda, her duet partner since 1997, will get even better.

“We have done very well. We will do even better and we hope to do better than the Russian team,” said Tachibana.

“We are very pleased with the crowd and the popularity of our performance,” added the 29-year-old.

The Japanese have had to settle for the silver behind Russia in two of duet synchronized swimming’s most important events, the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and the 2003 world championships in Barcelona.

Takeda said, “I haven’t heard how the Russians performed or how many points they got. All we can do is perform our best and I just want to swim tomorrow as well as we did today.”

As expected, the two Anastasias from Russia were outstanding, their perfect splits combined with great spins and creative flair giving them a deserved lead.

Terauchi advances

ATHENS (Kyodo) Japan’s Ken Terauchi advanced to the men’s 3-meter springboard diving semifinal with a fourth-place finish in the preliminary competition at the Athens Olympics on Monday.

Terauchi, who finished eighth at the 2000 Sydney Games, started out in a tie for 20th after the first dive but made his way up the ranking with five subsequent dives for a total of 456.15 points at the Olympic Aquatic Centre.

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